When a foreigner thinks of Great Britain, they generally think of the old, beautiful buildings and the people that once lived in them. Some of these beautiful decades-old buildings are homes, some fit under the category of mansion, or even palaces in some cases. Whatever the category they fall under, they are wonderful building with great details.
Here is the list of the top seven grandest homes in Great Britain:
- Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
The first person to ever own this palace was John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. He had been awarded this manor house, called Woodstock Manor, after succeeding at the battle of Blenheim in 1704. The palace got its name after Queen Anne had it built as a thank-you for Churchill’s services in the military. The manor is located in Oxfordshire.
The palace was constructed over the span of 20 years. The design for the manor was made by English architect Sir John Vanbrugh. It was completed in the 1720s, and soon after that, Churchill and his family moved in. A Column of Victory was soon erected at the palace’s parkland, which displayed the duke as a Roman general, recognizing him for his successful military career.
Ownership was eventually passed down to the Duke’s oldest daughter, Henrietta Godolphim in 1722, after she became the second Duchess of Marlborough. Unfortunately, Henrietta’s children never made it to adulthood, so she passed the home down to the duke’s youngest daughter Anne Spencer in 1733. Anne’s second son, Charles Spencer, became the third Duke of Marlborough in 1733, and eventually his son and grandson inherited the home.
In 1840, the death of the fifth Duke of Marlborough left the Churchill family in some financial trouble. The family was soon forced to sell the palace’s art collections in order to keep the home. The dukedom had nearly gone bankrupt when Charles Spencer-Churchill inherited the title as the ninth Duke of Marlborough in 1892. In order to keep the home, he had to marry a wealthy American heiress named Consuelo Vanderbilt in 1895. Charles then inherited $2,500,000, which he used to save the palace. The marriage was an unhappy one; the couple split in 1906 and divorced in 1921.
In 1914, the palace was used as a hospital for soldiers who had been wounded in World War I. The ninth Duke had become concerned about food that was available on the homefront during the war. That is when he decided to use the vast estate to produce crops and raise livestock to assist with food. He eventually became the president of the Women’s National Land Service Corps after it was established in 1916.
Blenheim Palace was opened to the public in April 1950, and continues to be the home of the Dukes of Marlborough.
- Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
This home was bought in 1549 after Bess of Hardwick married her second husband Sir William Cavendish in 1547. Bess of Hardwick was considered one of the most prominent women in Elizabethan society at the time.
While the couple lived there, Elizabeth I had order Queen Mary of Scots to be imprisoned at the home after she had abdicated and fled from Scotland to England in 1567. Between the years of 1569 and 1584, Bess’ fourth husband, George Talbot, the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, had been Mary’s warden for the English queen.
The home also played a part in the Civil War. Bess’ great-grandson, William Cavendish, had fled to the U.S. and continued to finance the raising of troops for the king’s side throughout the war. During the war, both royalists and parliamentarians had occupied the home at different times. The earl did not return to the home until monarchy was restored by Charles II in 1660. At this point, the home was beginning to crumble and was too dangerous to occupy.
In the late 17th century, the fourth Earl, William Cavendish, began rebuilding the home with the help of the architects William Talman and Thomas Archer. By 1694, Cavendish was made the first Duke of Devonshire. He died in 1707, right after the home had been completed.
The fifth Duke and Duchess of Devonshire lived at the home during the 18th and 19th centuries. Many people believe they are the most famous people who had lived there. The Duchess, Lady Georgina, was very famous during her day for her beauty and her campaigning for the Whig Party. The couple’s marriage wasn’t the greatest; the Duke’s mistress also lived at the home.
- Bodrhyddan Hall, North Wales
The home that actually stands today was built in the 17th century. However, some of the original parts of the home suggest it was begun in the 15th century.
The home has been owned by the land-owning Conwy family for more than 500 years. The family expanded the building in the 1600s, to turn it into a country manor.
Architect William Eden Nesfield came up with the new design in 1874. The front was redesigned in a baroque style which was popular in the 19th century, and a longer driveway was created. There was an extra wing added to the main house and the gardens were also created by Nesfield’s father.
The home holds private collections, of paintings, armor, and has even an Egyptian mummy, from 3,000 years ago.
- Castle Howard, Yorkshire
Construction for this home began in 1699 but the work was not completed until more than 100 years after it began. The design of the home kept changing since the home was owned by three earls. The third earl looked over the east wing and the fourth looked over the west wing, which resulted in one wing being baroque and the other was Palladian style, giving the home an imbalance in symmetry.
In 1709, the Venetian artist Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini was hired by the third earl to paint the house’s hallway and saloon. The artist also painted the dome of the house.
In 1940, on November 9, a fire started in the south end of the house. Strong winds that day caused the fire to spread through all of the levels in the home. The dome eventually collapsed and was destroyed. In residence were schoolgirls from Queen Margaret’s school, who had been evacuated to the home, once World War II started, but the fire service could not save the home from being extensively damage.
Restoration did not begin until the 1960s, when a majority of the home was reconstructed, except for the east wing which remains a shell. The home belongs to the Howard family, which still lives there; allow the house to be open to the public for tours.
- Mellerstain House, Scottish Borders
Construction began on this home in 1725 for George Baillie, a Scottish Member of Parliament, and his wife Lady Grisell.
William Adam was the architect of the building, and he was instructed to build the wings of the house first. That meant that there were no connecting buildings between the wings for 40 years while it was under construction. The couple lived in the east wing while the servants used the west wing.
After Baillie died in 1738, his widow controlled the house in a strict fashion. She started to collect accounts which have given a lot of insights into running the house in the 18th century.
In 1759, George Baillie, the second son of nobleman Charles Hamilton, inherited the estate. Since then, the house has remained in the family. George hired architect Robert Adam in 1770 to design the main building to connect the two wings.
- Burghley House, Lincolnshire
Construction started in the early 1550s; the house was built for Sir William Cecil, who was Elizabeth I’s secretary of state. The house was originally built in an E shape in order to reflect Cecil’s loyalty to the queen. However, in the 18th century, Brownlow Cecil, the ninth Earl of Exeter, had ordered that one of the wings be demolished.
The fifth Earl of Exeter, John Cecil, started collecting art after he toured Italy in the late 17th century and the home is still considered to have one of the finest private art collections today.
In 1754, the ninth Earl of Exeter hired a landscape gardener to redesign the gardens and parkland, which included the stables and orangery.
- Witley Court, Worcestershire
This home was designed during James I and VI’s reign. In 1655 the Foley family made their fortune in the iron industry and purchased the estate. As their wealth grew, the first Baron Foley expanded the house throughout the 1600s and 1700s.
Over time, the family began to lose their fortune. However, Thomas, the third Baron Foley, married Lady Cecilia Olivia Geraldine FitzGerald in 1806. After receiving his wife’s dowry, he was able to hire the architect John Nash to develop the estate. The estate was then sold to William Ward, who became the first Earl of Dudley in 1833.